As numerous major construction companies buckle under the weight of rising costs of labour and materials, Homes by CMA founder Chris Baptista has defied the industry odds to take home Brisbane's most prestigious and longstanding accolade for young entrepreneurs.
Last night the French-born founder took home the 2023 Brisbane Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, and also won the event's Property category prize for the fourth consecutive time.
He edged out high-flying entrepreneurs for the top prize including Alex Ewart, co-founder of industry-leading operating system for global trade Explorate, Ross Ledingham of burgeoning Brisbane hospitality empire Potentia Leisure Solutions, and Daniel Wessels of digital lending heavyweight Jacaranda Finance, among others.
Baptista has carved out a niche for himself in custom home builds throughout Southeast Queensland, with 45 full-time employees and 200 sub-contractors engaged in more than 200 homes under construction at any given time.
"CMA remains completely debt free, which is one of our key points of difference and one we are very proud of as people looking to build are still very apprehensive due to more and more builders that have gone into liquidation, including Porter Davis, one of Australia’s largest home builders," Baptista tells Business News Australia.
"The construction industry in general is still not in great shape and faces many challenges. Most builders are operating on very slim profit margins, and the focus has shifted toward lowering prices and offering more promotions to attract clients in the face of increased competition.
"CMA has not adapted this strategy. We have instead focused on being as different to the crowd as we possibly can, increased prices, provided certainty to our clients, and focused on outstanding customer service from sales all the way to maintenance."
The company's debt-free status did not happen by accident. When being interviewed for these awards in 2020, Baptista highlighted the importance of "bulletproof financial stability".
"I had a few regrets where I thought I could have bought more, I could have grown more, but when the virus hit it actually made me realise that sometimes being safe actually pays off," he said at the time.
Having left France for Australia at the age of 18, the average person might not see Baptista's life choices as exactly "safe". But it was all part of a desire from a very young age to be a successful entrepreneur, coupled with his great impressions of Australia on a family holiday.
"While other kids were reading comics, I was reading business books. While other kids wanted to have a job, I wanted to have my own business," he says.
"Once I finished uni, I already knew I was going to set up my own business and I had already analysed the home building industry very carefully, so I set up my own business from scratch.
"Like the decision to come to Australia, setting up Homes by CMA was an easy decision and with both decisions I saw no risk. There was never a plan B."
Homes by CMA was just one example of the impressive finalists on display at the 2023 Brisbane Young Entrepreneur Awards, which took place at W Brisbane and was supported by corporate partners Maserati, University of Queensland, MGI, Soda, Brisbane City Council, Coraggio, VentureCrowd, iVvy and SAI Security.
See below for all winners from the night, and we thank all participants for sharing their stories with Business News Australia.
- Young Entrepreneur of the Year - Chris Baptista (Homes by CMA)
- Trailblazer of the Year - Alex Ewart (Explorate)
- Digital Disruptor - Alex Ewart (Explorate)
- Fashion & Design - Nof Hamze and Alex Hamze (Alamour The Label)
- Finance - Daniel Wessels (Jacaranda Finance)
- Fitness - Georgio Batsinilas (FitazFK)
- Food & Beverage - Myrrah Balsabas and Joshua Spurway (Vision Made Co.)
- Health & Medicine - Nic Blair & Matt Anderson (Midnight Health)
- Hospitality & Tourism - Ross Ledingham (Potentia Solutions Leisure: Lina Rooftop, Soko Rooftop, Carmen Tequileria, Claw, Mina Italian, Soul Green Cafe)
- Legal - Courtney Lockett - Lockett McCullough Lawyers
- Marketing - Lana Hill (Walker Hill Digital)
- PR, Media & Events - Thomas Fu and Tom Mcpherson (Motor Culture Australia)
- Professional Services - Peter Dodeja (SAI Security Group, SAI Investments Group)
- Property & Construction - Chris Baptista (HOMES by CMA)
- Retail & Services - James Mutton (Motorcycle Trading)
- Specialist Services - Tory Ogden (Voltora Industries)
- Startup - Declan Kluver & Blake Thompson (XRecruiter)
- Sustainability & Social Responsibility - Razia Ansari (RAIS Industries)
- Technology - Lachlan Feeney (Labrys)
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